• Ellen

Seeing The bigger picture



When approaching a problem, from how many perspectives do you look at it from? One maybe two? The Grand Challenges in life need to be looked at from an interdisciplinary perspective, in order to see the bigger picture. (This is just a short introduction into the world of interdisciplinary learning)


I will start off by explaining what the word interdisciplinary means. In Latin "inter" means between and "disciplina" translates as teaching or knowledge (Vocabulary.com). Therefore interdisciplinary means between knowledge, which is fitting as in interdisciplinary learning we look at how subjects and topics can be linked together. Imagine a spiders web (or a mind map), if we put a topic in the centre say "sustainability" then we don't just draw off science academics but also off of sociology, economics, history, geography, geology, engineering and any other disciplines that have a relevance, if I listed them all we would have a very long list! 😂🙈


Just because a problem appears to be STEM based doesn't mean that the humanities aren't just as important in solving the issue at hand. The humanities add to technical skills by bringing the human element to the for-front, so we can look at how an issue effects people. Further to this when we are purely focusing on one discipline we can form a blik causing us to be biased in our thoughts. (A blik is a philosophical term for bias.) This is why it is useful to bring in multiple areas of academics when approaching a problem.


In one of my recent university lectures we were asked to write down qualities of a creative person, then after that we were asked what qualities we would describe a scientist with. Give yourself a minute to do the same...



... finished? How similar are your lists, and do the qualities in each list work for both? Some examples of what you might have are:

  • Thinks out side the box

  • Connects Ideas

  • Curious

  • Independent

For example an artist experiments with different materials to work out what qualities will help them with their work. The only real difference between an artist and a scientist testing materials is the type of material and the environment they are in. Both are a creative process that uses experimentation to test the properties of said material.


In conclusion connecting the disciplines is an important element in tackling the problems of today and of the future. There is no reason for such a hard a distinction between STEM and Humanities subjects, when these disciplines actually complement what some would see as opposing disciplines.


There will be more blogs in this series look out for "what is a liberal arts degree" "the history of liberal arts" and "choosing my options" all coming soon!!



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